Skip to comments.Poll: No Role for Government in Schiavo Case
Posted on 03/21/2005 7:30:53 AM PST by Dog Gone
Mar. 21, 2005 - Americans broadly and strongly disapprove of federal intervention in the Terri Schiavo case, with sizable majorities saying Congress is overstepping its bounds for political gain.
The public, by 63 percent-28 percent, supports the removal of Schiavo's feeding tube, and by a 25-point margin opposes a law mandating federal review of her case. Congress passed such legislation and President Bush signed it early today.
That legislative action is distinctly unpopular: Not only do 60 percent oppose it, more -- 70 percent -- call it inappropriate for Congress to get involved in this way. And by a lopsided 67 percent-19 percent, most think the elected officials trying to keep Schiavo alive are doing so more for political advantage than out of concern for her or for the principles involved.
This ABC News poll also finds that the Schiavo case has prompted an enormous level of personal discussion: Half of Americans say that as a direct result of hearing about this case, they've spoken with friends or family members about what they'd want done if they were in a similar condition. Nearly eight in 10 would not want to be kept alive.
In addition to the majority, the intensity of public sentiment is also on the side of Schiavo's husband, who has fought successfully in the Florida courts to remove her feeding tube. And intensity runs especially strongly against congressional involvement.
Included among the 63 percent who support removing the feeding tube are 42 percent who "strongly" support it -- twice as many as strongly oppose it. And among the 70 percent who call congressional intervention inappropriate are 58 percent who hold that view strongly -- an especially high level of strong opinion.
Views on this issue are informed more by ideological and religious views than by political partisanship. Republicans overall look much like Democrats and independents in their opinions.
But two core Republican groups -- conservatives and evangelical Protestants -- are more divided: Fifty-four percent of conservatives support removal of Schiavo's feeding tube, compared with seven in 10 moderates and liberals. And evangelical Protestants divide about evenly -- 46 percent are in favor of removing the tube, 44 percent opposed. Among non-evangelical Protestants, 77 percent are in favor -- a huge division between evangelical and mainline Protestants.
Conservatives and evangelicals also are more likely to support federal intervention in the case, although it doesn't reach a majority in either group. Indeed, conservative Republicans oppose involving the federal courts, by 57 percent-41 percent.
Conservatives and evangelicals hold these views even though most people in both groups -- 73 percent and 68 percent, respectively -- say that if they personally were in this condition, they would not want to be kept alive.
Should Feeding Tube Be Removed?
Regardless of their preference on the Schiavo case, about two-thirds of conservatives and evangelicals alike call congressional intervention inappropriate. And majorities in both groups, as in others, are skeptical of the motivations of the political leaders seeking to extend Schiavo's life.
Should Federal Government Intervene?
Preference and Experience
Public views on this issue are informed in part by Americans' preferences for their own care if they were in a similar situation: Sixteen percent would want life support; as noted, 78 percent would not. While still a very large majority, that's down from 87 percent in an ABC News/Washington Poll last week.
Among people who favor removing Schiavo's life support, 94 percent say that's also what they would want for themselves. By contrast, people who oppose removing the feeding tube in Schiavo's case divide about evenly on what they'd want for themselves: Forty-five percent would want life support, 41 percent would not.
Some speak from experience: A third of Americans say they've had friends or family members who passed away in a hospital or other care facility after life support was removed; nearly two in 10 say they were personally involved in that decision. People who've been personally involved in such a decision are more apt than others to support removing Schiavo's feeding tube and to say they personally would not want life support.
Age and Attention
There are differences among age groups. Senior citizens are more apt than others to strongly support removing Schiavo's feeding tube, and also more apt to oppose federal intervention. And young adults are less likely to say that, as a result of the Schiavo case, they've discussed their own wishes with family or friends.
Just under six in 10 Americans are closely following the Schiavo case, including 16 percent who've been following it very closely -- a respectable albeit not overwhelming level of public attention. Young adults, age 18 to 29, are less than half as likely as their elders to be following the case closely -- just 27 percent are doing so. There's an irony in that result: Schiavo herself was stricken at age 26.
This ABC News poll was conducted by telephone March 20, 2005, among a random national sample of 501 adults. The results have a 4.5-point error margin. Sampling, data collection and tabulation by TNS Intersearch of Horsham, Pa.
Overwhelmingly, most of the keep-her-alive-at-any-cost posters on Free Republic are out of touch with reality.
Indeed. After demonstrating that they can get a controversial bill drafted, passed, and ready for Dubya's signature in a weekend -- if they really want to -- they are going to be big-red-capital-Superman-S screwed if they don't get satisfactory results on tax/spending cuts, Social Security reform, et cetera.
Just to clarify, I *WANT* to believe Terri is cognitive. I want her to revive. I don't want her to die. However, the facts I've seen simply don't support the belief she is cognitive and there's a chance she will recover.
Here's my problem with all of this. *IF* these are all true; why is it no court has EVER sided with Terri's parents and why is it all the court-appointed experts can find no trace of cognitive ability? I find it hard to believe not one court has ever concluded Terri is NOT in a PVS. I've even read the report of one of the court-appointed guardians.
I saw the tapes Terri's parents put out and it was obvious to me how the scenes were staged. Her mother holds her head directly in front of her face. Have you tried putting your face nearly nose-to-nose with someone and focus on the other? Her father stands in front of where Terri's face is and carries on a conversation when she's making noises and grunts. How do we know she doesn't always make such noises when they're not there or not having such a "conversation"?
That's the problem with just viewing a small clip of a videotape. It allows for highly edited and selective portions to support one's position. Those appointed by the courts who have spent MONTHS with Terri have ALL concluded she does NOT try to communicate and there is NO evidence of cognitive ability. Her eyes don't even focus on moving objects (IIRC).
Why do you think the neurologists who have actually examined her have all concluded she is in a PVS? The only ones who have claimed otherwise never examined her in person (again, IIRC) but only made such an observation by viewing the video her parents have put out. Even then, it was tentative pending examination.
Please clarify your claim about her ability to swallow. All I've seen were conclusions she was incapable of swallowing.
True. But against her wishes.
The polls over the next few days will be painful to look at. In FR's "ehco chamber", and in this hothouse of emotional venting, it's easy to miss the fact that the larger swath of Americans does not like this, or the precedent it sets.
There are large numbers of voters who supported the President and the Republicans based on the security issue, but were a bit leery of the religious right. Their fears are now being confirmed. We can only hope they don't remember this in 2006, or the Senate at least is in jeapardy.
The federal government has no legitimate role whatsoever in homicide cases (outside a few narrow circumstances, none of which are applicable here).
When the opposition is shooting himself in the foot, don't interfere.
That was the question of poll ~ most didn't even read the poll question.
"What would you do if it was you in this state?"
I wouldn't spend six months that way ~ release me from my earthly bonds and let be with the Lord.
Or, they're reading the polls and getting out of the way while the Republicans shoot themselves in the foot.
That is correct. If she would have, she'd have been dead and buried back in 2000 when it was first ordered by the court.
As it is, she verbally told her husband, her husband's brother, and her best friend that she wouldn't want to live that way. The judge heard, and accepted, the sworn testimony of those three individuals.
By law, that is sufficient.
I think I'd want to be kept alive. I understand she can taste and appreciate jello and she smiles at music and her parents.
Maybe it sounds stupid to base a quality of life just on the pleasures of eating jello, but I figure that is better than nothing (I'm assuming she's not in severe pain).
I think that is better than being dead, myself. HOWEVER I would want to be well taken care of, given therapy, changed positions so I don't get bedsores, etc.
I guess I just really value my life. We only get one, after all. It might not be the quality of life we once had but it's better than no life (IMO).
I've told my husband I'd want to be kept alive. Guess I'm one of the 2 in 10 who would. Oh well--it's not the first time my opinion is out of the mainstream!
(Denny Crane: "Sometimes you can only look for answers from God and failing that... and Fox News".)
Yup. They'd better be thinking about working a LOT of weekends now. Oh, and when the Dims charge, as they will do, that the GOP is controlled by its extremist factions (think judges), there won't be much cover left. Or political capital.
(Denny Crane: "Sometimes you can only look for answers from God and failing that... and Fox News".)
Agreed. The "culture warriors" really don't get it. And anyone who tries to spell it out is going to be attacked for doing so.
Logical people understand that's irrelevant. Michael is her guardian.
"At the very least he has a conflict of interest that he cannot overcome when it comes to any decision about Terri's fate."
What's the conflict? Live or die, there's no conflict. What are you talking about?
"And you seem to be ill-informed ..."
And you seem to be ignorant of what I know.
Yeah.. and now, we're going to have some trobule on Social Security... I hope the Repbulicans are used to working weekends. And the Religious Right had DAMN well better deliver in 2006 after the GOP stuck their necks out or they're going to have ZERO credibility with the GOP for a generation.
Thank you for your excellant post.